ODVV interview: The Trump administration has...
After withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, popularly known as the Iran nuclear deal, US President Donald Trump imposed a new set of economic sanctions against Iran that went into effect on Tuesday, 7th of August. President Trump's unilateral measures have sent shockwaves across the globe and prompted varying responses from different world countries.
While Saudi Arabia and Israel welcomed the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the nuclear deal, the European Union and Iran's traditional allies in Asia have said they'll resist pressure from the United States to stop doing business with Tehran and will continue working to ensure the nuclear agreement is preserved.
A distinguished author and the former president of the National Iranian American Council says the US sanctions violate the rights of the Iranian people and signal President Trump's contempt for human rights. "Broad economic sanctions are a form of collective punishment and as a result a violation of the Iranian people’s human rights. We have clearly seen how sanctions among other things have created medicine shortages in Iran," said Dr. Trita Parsi in an interview with Organization for Defending Victims of Violence. Trita Parsi is an award-winning author and the recipient of the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. He currently teaches at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington DC.
In a conversation with ODVV, Dr. Parsi answered to some questions about the US economic sanctions against Iran and their impact on the livelihoods of Iranian people.
Q: The United States currently imposes extensive economic sanctions on a number of world countries. Doesn't the frequent use of sanctions as a political and commercial leverage on different nations lead to global instability, the emergence of tensions in international relations and unusual fluctuations in the world economy?
A: The US’s use of sanctions certainly seems to have reached a point in which certainly can have a destabilizing effect and in which other countries have been given incentives to put into place the building blocks of an alternative global financial system since Washington has decided to use the existing one as an instrument of American power.
Q: Some of the sanctions imposed by the United States on some of the world countries have human rights pretexts and are enforced on the basis that these countries violate human rights grossly. Do you consider the concerns of the US statesmen for human rights to be sincere and genuine?
A: The Trump administration has made clear that they do not value nor respect human rights. Their neglect of human rights abuses in GCC states, particularly Saudi Arabia, certainly does not give confidence that their focus on human rights in Iran is motivated by genuine concern for the Iranian people. In fact the sanctions Trump is imposing on Iran violates the Iranian people’s human rights.
Q: The economic sanctions of the United States against Iran started in 1979 and expanded over time over Iran's human rights record and its nuclear programme. Haven't the US sanctions against Iran been embedded in the structure of the US economy so deeply that even in the likely event of their removal in the future after a possible agreement between Iran and the United States, will not be able to leave concrete impacts and benefit Iran?
A: The United States is much better at imposing sanctions than lifting them. However, this does not mean that all sanctions relief by definition are meaningless.
Q: What do you think about the humanitarian consequences of the US sanctions against Iran? Don't these measures contradict the principles of human rights and isn't it possible to question the United States government based on these principles?
A: Yes, I believe that broad economic sanctions are a form of collective punishment and as a result a violation of the Iranian people’s human rights. We have clearly seen how sanctions among other things have created medicine shortages in Iran. One cannot claim concern for the Iranian people while pursuing policies that deliberately target and impoverishes ordinary Iranians.
Q: How much is the Iranian-American community in the United States and Iranian lobby groups concerned about the sanctions imposed against Iran under President Obama and President Trump? Do these groups have the actual power to pressure the US government into reducing or suspending the sanctions for the grave consequences they've had on the livelihoods of Iranians?
A: There are no “Iranian lobby groups” in Washington to the best of my knowledge. And among Iranian American groups active on Capitol Hill, only NIAC has consistently pushed back against broad based sanctions. While NIAC has proven its ability to influence US policy, the momentum right now is on the side of those pursuing more hawkish and bellicose policies.
Q: What do you think Iran should do politically and particularly legally to survive the current difficulties, given the unilateralism of the Trump administration, sanctions and economic pressures, the inability of the European Union in guaranteeing the safeguarding of the JCPOA and the regional rivalries Iran is embroiled in?
A: While I understand the cultural, political and historical challenges, I think Iran has much to gain from engaging Donald Trump. As I write in Middle East Eye, any deal with Trump may have little value due to his unreliability. Yet, Tehran can also use that unreliability to its own advantage. The mere image of Trump and Rouhani shaking hands and speaking in private will spread panic in Riyadh and Tel Aviv – precisely because these allies of Trump know that they too cannot rely on him.
Their deep-seated fear of being betrayed by America in any US-Iran dialogue will reach a breaking point and likely cause a significant weakening of the concerted US-Israel-Gulf effort to break Iran. Ultimately, that would make Iran look good, not Trump.
By: Kourosh Ziabari